General

General

4.3 6
Director: Clyde Bruckman

Cast: Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender

     
 

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Buster Keaton plays Johnny Gray, a Southern railroad engineer who loves his train engine, The General, almost as much as he loves Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack). When the opening shots of the Civil War are fired at Fort Sumter, Johnny tries to enlist -- and he is deemed too useful as an engineer to be a soldier. All Johnny knows is that he's been rejected, and Annabelle,… See more details below

Overview

Buster Keaton plays Johnny Gray, a Southern railroad engineer who loves his train engine, The General, almost as much as he loves Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack). When the opening shots of the Civil War are fired at Fort Sumter, Johnny tries to enlist -- and he is deemed too useful as an engineer to be a soldier. All Johnny knows is that he's been rejected, and Annabelle, thinking him a coward, turns her back on him. When Northern spies steal the General (and, unwittingly, Annabelle), the story switches from drama and romance to adventure mixed with Keaton's trademark deadpan humor as he uses every means possible to catch up to the General, thwart the Yankees, and rescue his darling Annabelle -- for starters. As always, Keaton performs his own stunts, combining his prodigious dexterity, impeccable comic timing, and expressive body language to convey more emotion than the stars of any of the talkies that were soon to dominate cinema.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kryssa Schemmerling
A staple on most critics' "Greatest Movies Ever Made" list, this was Buster Keaton's own favorite among the many silent masterpieces in which he starred and directed. The plot, as elegantly constructed as a mathematical equation, centers around little Johnny Gray, an engineer rejected from the Confederate Army, who becomes a hero when he rescues both his beloved engine and his sweetheart from the Yankees. The marvelously inventive gags, almost all of which take place aboard, or involve, moving trains, include the sublime spectacle of a real locomotive crashing off a burning trestle bridge into the river below. Designed to look like a Matthew Brady photograph come to life, The General remains the most hauntingly accurate vision of the Civil War ever filmed. The inspired combination of comedy and historical realism confounded '20s audiences; the movie was an expensive flop that contributed to Keaton's professional demise. His brilliant career as an independent filmmaker had been over for years before The General was recognized as the work of cinematic genius that it is.
All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Buster Keaton perfectly balanced romance, action and comedy in his most admired film and personal favorite, a Civil War story about an engineer and his eponymous locomotive. Based on a true incident involving a hijacked Confederate train, Keaton strove to make the film as authentic as possible, shooting on location in Oregon to get the proper track gauge and sinking an actual locomotive engine at the film's climax (in reportedly the most expensive single take for a silent film). The lighting and composition recall Matthew Brady's Civil War photographs, while tracking shots following Keaton's locomotive adventures further displayed his technical expertise. The train became Keaton's supreme comic prop in the two intricately devised, and narratively mirrored, chase sequences involving his efforts to elude Union pursuers; the humorous business accompanying Keaton's retrieval of the General, and girlfriend, sent up romantic fantasies and war heroics. The effort seemed to be for naught when The General received negative reviews in 1927 and failed to make a profit. The General's reputation, along with Keaton's, however, was resuscitated in the 1950s; The General became Keaton's masterpiece, joining Charles Chaplin's The Gold Rush (1925) as one of the greatest silent comedies ever made.

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Product Details

Release Date:
03/18/2003
UPC:
0089218412898
Original Release:
1927
Rating:
NR
Source:
Alpha Video
Region Code:
0
Presentation:
[B&W]
Sound:
[silent]
Time:
1:18:00
Sales rank:
34,419

Special Features

[None specified]

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Buster Keaton Johnnie Gray
Marion Mack Annabelle Lee
Glen Cavender Capt. Anderson
Jim Farley Gen, Thatcher
Fred Vroom Southern General
Richard Allen His Son
Joe Keaton Union General
Mike Donlin Union General
Tom Nawn Union General
Charles H. Smith Mr. Lee
Ray Thomas Raider
Jimmy Bryant Raider
Ross McCutcheon Raider
Charles Phillips Raider
Anthony Harvey Raider
Edward Hearn Union Officer
Budd Fine Raider
Frank S. Hagney Recruiting Officer

Technical Credits
Clyde Bruckman Director,Screenwriter
Buster Keaton Director,Editor,Screenwriter
Al Boasberg Screenwriter
Lee Erwin Score Composer
Bert Haines Cinematographer
Robert Israel Musical Arrangement
Devereaux Jennings Cinematographer
J. Sherman Kell Editor
Fred C. Ryle Makeup
Joseph M. Schenck Producer
Charles H. Smith Screenwriter

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Chapter 1 [17:32]
2. Chapter 2 [18:00]
3. Chapter 3 [21:04]
4. Chapter 4 [15:45]
5. Chapter 5 [18:33]
6. Chapter 6 [14:06]

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